VOICES Voices Icon Ideas and Insight From Explorers


Healing Journey: Midnight Arctic Afternoon


National Geographic grantee and contributor Jon Waterhouse, an avid paddler and Alaska Region Director of the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council, is leading the 2010 Healing Journey down the Koyukuk River from Coldfoot to Koyukuk, Alaska. Along the way, he’s calling from the field via satellite phone to share stories with BlogWild readers of the river, the wilderness, the wildlife, and the people he encounters.

“It’s almost midnight my time. But in real terms, it’s a beautiful afternoon here in the Yukon—a bright, sunny, shiny day because we’re in the Arctic.

“Some folks in Alakaket sang us out of town with native songs and some contemporary folk music. They’re from a group called the AK Band—Alakaket AK or Alaska AK. Really great, though, it was awesome.

“That was yesterday. We camped, came on down the river. We saw a huge, beautiful martin. Then we saw a thunderstorm show, a pre-Fourth-of-July show. It was incredible. Huge thunderheads everywhere, just like you see in the Caribbean islands. Huge lightning, absolutely beautiful.

“Now we’re in camp. It’s the middle of the night, midnight, as I said, and it’s just like the middle of the afternoon, a beautiful, bright, sunny day because we’re in the Arctic.

“We’ll continue on down to Hughes, and we should be there on the sixth. Hopefully, I can send you some photos from there. And if we can keep the satellite on, I’ll ask a few other folks to call you with their perspectives.

“Oh, and the photo I sent of the man in the canoe: I took it on the first Healing Journey in St.Mary’s, Alaska.

“The man is Mr. Jimmie, a Yupik Elder who was sooo thrilled to see the canoe that he could barely contain himself. He was excited like to little kid. He hadn’t seen one since he was young and used it for muskrat hunting. He took off across the river and his wife (she’s so cute) was calling him back in Yupik saying ‘You’re an old man, not a kid, get back here!’

“He listened, sort of.

“Hope you have a good night! Take care.”

Photo by Jon Waterhouse